Adventurer seeker, Dylan McWilliams, is no stranger to physical encounters with wild animals. In 2015, the Grand Junction, Colorado native survived a snake bite. Two years later he endured a shark attack and a bear attack, that forced him to fight for his life, within eight months of each other!
McWilliams, 20, was surfing in the Kauai waters in Hawaii when he was bitten in his right calf by, what he believes to have been a tiger shark at least 6-feet in length. “Something hit my leg, and I started looking around and saw blood,” McWilliams told People Magazine. “I saw the shark underneath me, and I just started kicking at it and swimming for shore as fast as I could. It was pretty scary.” The thrill seeker added, “I remember thinking I had to get to the shore, so I just kept swimming.”
When McWilliams reached land, a woman rushed to his aid, shortly after that, an ambulance transported him to a local hospital. He was given seven stitches to close the bite marks. McWilliams’ body may have been blemished, but his spirit was not. “I would have gotten back in the water that same day, but I couldn’t because of my leg.”
The shark attack came only months after he survived a bear attack during a camping trip. “I just woke up to a loud crunching sound, and I remember a lot of pain, and just being drug across the ground by my head by a bear,” McWilliams says he punched the bear in the eyes and nose while it dragged him 12 feet in about 15 seconds before releasing him. “I kind of thought it was a dream for a second, I didn’t know what was going on.” McWilliams continued, “I was very afraid for my life after it dropped me and I got back to where everybody was, I just laid down, and the blood was all over my eyes, and I couldn’t see. I thought I was blind.”
McWilliams was taken to a hospital where he was given nine staples to his scalp. While McWilliams described the horrific encounter, he noted that 12- and 13-year old campers were sleeping only 100 feet away. Thankfully, nobody else was injured in the attack.
Experts say unprovoked behavior like this is atypical for black bears. The 280-pound black bear was captured and euthanized by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. McWilliams was there to see it: “I looked into its eyes, for me, I’ve always loved the outdoors, and animals, I kind of felt bad for it,” he says. “But then, I was like, this thing tried to kill me. Then I didn’t really feel bad for it.” McWilliams was asked if he’s nervous about camping, he replied: “No, I’ll probably go tomorrow night.”
Two years before both attacks, 17-year-old McWilliams was exploring in Utah and was bitten by a rattlesnake. Still, he says the bear attack rattled him the most. “Waking up to a bear dragging me was pretty scary,” he said “I didn’t know what was going on, I just knew I had a bear dragging me. I didn’t know how bad the bite marks were.”
McWilliams doesn’t have any lifestyle changes in his plans. “I’m not gonna let those things change what I wanna do. I’m still gonna be going camping and sleeping under the stars and surfing and swimming,” he said. “Ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be like Steve Irwin and doing this kind of stuff is helping me get to do a little bit of what he did.”